Welcome aboard the next leg of the journey in the Ultimate World Cruise blog post series. We are exploring the destinations requested by the resident owners of Storylines maiden ship, MV Narrative. Our residents have a say in where the sustainable ship will voyage.
Broken down into regions, so far, we have covered:
- Eastern Mediterranean
- North Africa & The Middle East
- Southern Africa & Indian Ocean
- Asia & South East Asia
- Bali, Australia & New Zealand
Our next chapter is the world-famous South Pacific region, where the following destinations were requested from a resident survey:
- Cook Islands
- French Polynesia
- Bora Bora
- Nuku Hiva
- Easter Island
- Cook Islands
The requested destinations in Micronesia were included with Southeast Asia and the Hawaiian islands will be included in the North America post.
South Pacific Islands
The South Pacific is one of the most famous world cruise destinations, along with the Caribbean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. It boasts some of the most beautiful tropical islands and indigenous cultures globally, with plentiful volunteer opportunities. The South Pacific is made of Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia. There are many other idyllic bays to drop anchor and explore by Zodiac and kayak...the South Pacific is full of endless opportunities for this, so this is by no means a comprehensive list of the places we will visit.
There are endless opportunities to drop anchor in idyllic bays along the way but this post is just be focusing on the destinations that have been requested thus far.
The Cook Islands are an atoll located in the South Pacific Ocean to the west of French Polynesia. A self-governing territory in free association with New Zealand, they are yet another Pacific Islands tropical paradise. There are many islands; however, ships of our size cruise into the main island, Rarotonga, where they anchor off the island's west side. This embarkation point is the main town of Avarua, with many resorts on this side of the island.
Avarua is within walking distance of the embarkation point. You will mainly find shops, restaurants, and essential services, including an international airport. Rarotonga is known as the Hawaii of yesteryear; a great place to holiday, explore and relax. Most visitors hire a moped and explore the many villages and beaches dotted around the island. However, if mopeds are not your thing, a bus leaves from Avarua every hour, circling travelers around the island. You will find abundant water activities, including glass-bottomed boats, swimming, snorkeling, diving, sailing, windsurfing, and kayaking. There's even deep-sea fishing if you want to bring back a fresh catch for dinner.
Cook Islands highlights
- Muri Beach Lagoon: Popular beach and a hub for watersports, including paddle boarding, kayaking, kitesurfing and lagoon cruises.
- Punanga Nui Marketplace: The heart of Rarotonga, the market is full of organic tropical island fruits, handicrafts, sarongs, hammocks and fragrant Ei Katu.
- Aitutaki Lagoon: Take a day trip, 50-minute flight from Rarotonga to the world's most beautiful lagoon.
- Muri Beach: This most beautiful section of Rarotonga's surrounding lagoon is full of tropical fish.
- Circle-Island Road: Discover secluded beaches and hidden coves on this 18km road that circles the island.
- Anatakitaki Cave: Take a guided tour of this national environmental treasure.
- BCA Art Gallery: View the best local artwork and enjoy a coffee in the cafe.
- Highland Paradise Cultural Centre: Excellent living history experience where the islanders tell their stories of ancient heritage through singing, dancing and drumming.
- Te Pare Fort: These are the most impressive ancient ruins on the Cook Islands.
- Cook Islands Library and Museum: Come here to learn about the island's heritage, history and culture of its people.
- Te Vara Nui Cultural Village: Another cultural learning experience, the highlight being the spectacular over-water show and buffet dinner.
- Motuanga Cave: The largest cave on Mauke Island starts on land and ends in a large pool under the reef.
The Tahitian Islands are a part of the Society Islands in French Polynesia. The largest island of the archipelago, Tahiti is famous for its black-sand beaches, volcanic mountains, and spectacular waterfalls. The local culture is a rich mixture of the native Mana people and a modern-day French influence. As such, French is widely spoken here as well as indigenous dialects. As a result, the tropical island paradise offers an abundance of immersive cultural experiences.
The dock is in Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, conveniently located near the center of town at the Quai D'Honneur. There is a visitor center at the pier, so we suggest stopping by to book tours. Papeete is the central hub of French Polynesia, so don't be surprised if many ships, ferries, and yachts are coming and going from this busy port. The waterfront is alive and buzzing, so take a stroll along the promenade, which also comes alive at night with restaurants, roulottes (food trucks) and Polynesian dance performances.
Must-see attractions include Bain Lot Beach. Like much of French Polynesia, you can partake in tropical island watersports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing and kayaking.
Tahiti must see:
- Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands: Visit the House of Hidden Treasures to learn about the Polynesian traditions that tie Tahiti and her 118 islands together.
- La Plage de Maui: While most of the beaches in Tahiti are made of black volcanic sand, this famous stretch is as pearly white as can be, coupled with crystal clear waters.
- Papenoo Beach: Papenoo is renowned for its clean point break and lack of crowd for the resident surfers. Enjoy a surf in paradise.
- Faarumai Waterfalls: Amazingly tall yet narrow waterfalls cascading down in between lush vegetation growing on the sides of the cliffs.
- Mo'orea Island: The Magical Island, Mo'orea is arguably the most spectacularly scenic island in French Polynesia.
The epitome of a tropical island paradise, Bora Bora, located in the Leeward Islands, is famous for its luxury overwater bungalows hanging over impossibly clear blue waters. You can swim off the back of these accommodations into the pristine waters below. This one is for the romantics looking for an extraordinary experience.
Ships anchor in Bora Bora, so you will be tendered ashore. Bikes are the best way to get around the island. There are also many excellent hiking trails offering extraordinary photo opportunities. Mount Otemanu makes for a great backdrop against the crystal-clear lagoon lined by lush tropical vegetation and white-as-white sand beaches with palms swaying above. We highly suggest you try the Bora Bora History and Culture 4WD tour.
Let’s hope we can drop anchor in a pristine bay for at least a week to properly experience one of the ultimate island paradises on the planet.
Bora Bora must see:
- Overwater bungalows: You cannot visit Bora Bora without at least one night in an overwater bungalow… unless you live on a luxury ship anchored not far away, we guess.
- Bicycle around Bora Bora: The best way to explore Bora Bora is by bicycle.
- Snorkel in the Lagoonarium: As the name suggests, this natural lagoon is like a manmade aquarium full of fish, turtles, manta rays, and harmless reef sharks.
- Swim with sharks: I know it doesn’t sound inviting, but these guided tours are fantastic and perfectly safe, without uysingle recorded shark attack… yet.
- Hike Mount Pahia: Climb this 600m tall mountain for an incredibly scenic hike. Note that the trek is relatively challenging, with an average of 45 degrees steep.
- Matira Beach: A beautiful public access beach with pearly white sand and pristine clear water.
The next stop requested is Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas, one of the South Pacific's most remote tropical island paradises. Ships anchor in a horseshoe bay and tender ashore to the capital of Nuka Hiva, Taihoae. The local Marquesans are beautiful people who live without any modern infrastructure. You can immerse yourself in the Marquesan culture by undertaking the excellent Hakaui Adventure with Tangy & Ana.
The scenery on this island is other-worldly, with basaltic peaks, jagged mountain-like rocks piercing the sky, and deep palm tree forest canyons with dense jungles. Nuka Hiva is an untouched nature lover's paradise with mind-boggling archaeological sites, most of which are thought to be undiscovered beneath the lush vegetation engulfing the island. The main village is located in the center of a crater and close to beautiful black sand beaches. Besides the fantastic scenery on the land, there is another world beneath the sea for diving enthusiasts.
Nuka Hiva must see:
- Kamuihei, Tahakia & Teiipoka: These three sites make up the largest excavated archeological area of Nuka Hika. The large banyans and huge moss-covered basalt rock structures are like something out of an Indiana Jones movie.
- Hakaui Waterfall: AKA Vaipo Waterfall, is the tallest waterfall in French Polynesia and a sight to behold. Unfortunately, you cannot reach the bottom due to falling boulders from the surrounding cliffs.
- Taiohae Cathedral: This beautiful structure is built from local stone and wood and perfectly fits its environment. Located on a sacred site to honor the ancient Marquesas.
- Anaho Bay beaches: A beautiful horseshoe-shaped bay of clear blue waters surrounded by tropical forest and mountain ridges.
- Tapivai Valley: Looking down the Tapivai Valley with its thick jungle surrounded by dramatic steep cliffs makes you realize why Nuka Hiva earned the nickname Mystical Island.
- Scuba Diving: The three best sites are the coral gardens of Sentinel & Hammer, Matateiko & Motumano Points and Ekamako Cave.
Easter Island is a bit of an outlier in this region, located at the southeastern tip of the Polynesian triangle. It is famous for its Moai, a group of nearly 1,000 ancient monumental statues created by the early Rapa Nui People. As a result, UNESCO classified Easter Island as a World Heritage Site in 1995. One of the most remote inhabited islands in the world, its 7,750 population is made of both the native Papa Nui and Polynesian heritage. Remarkably, much of the island is protected by national parks.
There is an anchorage at Hanga Roa, the small town and capital. You might want to take the tender ashore or take a kayak. The island is tiny. The best way to explore is by getting a map, bringing a bike from the ship’s supply and cycling around the island. You could technically rent a car or hire a taxi but you don’t need a tour company.
Easter Island must see
- Moais at Raraku National Park: About half of the Moais are located inside Raraku National Park. These mysterious monolithic statues date between 1250 and 1500 AD.
- Anakena Beach: There’s a good chance you could get this beautiful little beach all to yourself. Well, except for a row of Moais watching over you!
- Sunrise at Tongariki: This is an iconic sight on Easter Island. Watching the orange light behind 15 Moais statues is something else. For those non-morning people: never fear, the sun rises late here (sometimes, as late as 8.30 am).
- Hike Teravaka Volcano: Great for non-hikers, Teravaka is only 507 meters above sea level yet still offers spectacular 360-degree views of the island.
- Papa Vaka Petroglyphs: Visit these ancient pictorial petroglyphs by the Rapa Nui at Papa Vaka, Ana Kai Tangata, and Orongo.
- Rano Raruku: This is the quarry, or the factory, where all the island’s iconic Moais were made. There are still 397 unfinished Moais in the quarry.
- Cultural dinner & dance: In Hanga Roa, you will find dinner and dance shows that offer an insight into the customs, cuisine, and culture of the ancient Rapa Nui people.
The country of Fiji consists of more than 300 islands and while 100 are inhabited, the majority of the population resides on just two islands. It is a hugely popular vacation destination due to its abundance of luxury resorts, idyllic island beaches and super friendly, welcoming locals. Ships mainly dock in Suva Cruise Port which is conveniently located a short 5 to 10-minute walk into the center of Fiji's capital city Suva. Expect welcoming ceremonies, fire walking and other cultural folk ceremonies. Visit the Fiji Museum in Suva to learn about the island nation's proud history and culture. Suva is a popular shopping destination. Victoria Parade sells everything from high fidelity audio equipment to jewelry for a fraction of the price you would pay back home.
We highly suggest exploring the island and its many beautiful beaches over a few days. Must-see spots include Savala Island Day Cruise, Malamala Beach Club and River tubing run by a local family-owned business. For a culturally immersive experience, book the multi-award-winning Full Combo Day Tour, including a river canoe, Fijian village visit, and magic waterfall experience.
- Lautoka: Fiji's second-largest city and a possible port stop for MV Narrative
- Nadi Tivua Island: Worth doing a day cruise to this tiny tropical island paradise
- Mamanuca Islands: This beautiful chain of islands is famous for water sports and adventuring.
- Castaway Island: Everything you'd expect from a place called Castaway Island.
- Cultural night tour with kava ceremony: These ceremonies happen all over Fiji. You can try drinking kava, which gives a slight euphoric feeling.
- Nadi sightseeing & mud pool: Do a day tour to Nadi and treat your skin to some mud.
- Nadi giant ziplines: Nadi also offers next-level zip lines starting from mountaintops through the jungle, canyons, and even caves.
- Day tour to the Coral Coast: Fiji is a diver's paradise so be sure to do some world-class snorkeling and diving at the Coral Coast.
Fiji volunteer opportunity
As beautiful as the islands of Fiji are, the reality is that outside the luxury resorts, there are environmental concerns. One such issue is the unsustainable exploitation of marine resources. Think Pacific organizes meaningful volunteer projects that also allow you to give back to the community and live like a local, experiencing their unique customs, culture, and way of life.
Thank you for joining us in this edition of the ultimate world cruise itinerary - South Pacific Islands. Keep an eye out for the next leg of the journey. If you are a resident owner of Storylines reading this, we look forward to cruising the South Pacific with you - thank you for suggesting all these fantastic destinations. This is just a small sampling and there will be many, many more. If you are still dreaming of having a global travel lifestyle, we welcome you to join us onboard - be sure to check out the range of floating homes still available.